Invasion of the Low Countries and France 1940

Waffen-SS troops arriving the Netherlands in May 1940
SS-Verfügungstruppen in front of City Hall in Haarlem
3 September of 1939 was a lovely Sunday. It was the day that France and Britain declared war on Germany. They created world tension from a central European quarrel into which they drew forces from their colonies. Holland fought for their official neutrality, in hope of being spared this war, and at the same time played with fire. The Dutch General Staff sought military contact with the Allies and foreign Secret Service agents romped around Holland. This did not escape Germany´s notice and they objected. They declared that France and Britain intended a military thrust to the Ruhr, using reconnoitered positions, not only in “neutral” Belgium, but in Holland as well. Not only that, French regiments had already received provisional operation orders, in April 1940, for their advance through Belgium and Holland. The open flank at the Siegfried Line offered itself as the area of concentration for the Allied Armed Forces. It was Duff Cooper, later Minister for information in Churchill´s cabinet, who said: We take any step necessary, and without consideration of the neutrality of the land. Chamberlain declared: We British can distribute our attacks as and when we wish. Hitler decided not to give his enemies the chance of any initiative. The breaking of Rights of Neutrality were not considered by Germany, in the view of the far from neutral behavior, not only of Belgium, of Holland as well. On Friday May 10 1940 the German offensive took its course from the North Sea to the southern border of Luxembourg. Top image: Photographer: Jäger (Amsterdam). Commons: Bundesarchiv. Bottom image: Men of the Austrian SS-Standarte Der Führer in front of the Haarlem Stadhuis at the Grote Markt in the Netherlands on May 15 1940. The SS-Kradschützens are armed with MP-18 submachine guns slung across their backs and the man in the sidecar is wearing an old M16 helmet instead of the new M35. Fair use.

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